Marketing

ESPN, Football Sack the Ratings — Again

10/06/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Bolstered by a bevy of football action, ESPN blitzed the primetime competition the week of Sept. 25 through Oct. 1.

The total sports network averaged a 2.8 household rating over that span, beating USA Network and Disney Channel by 33.3%, with both of those networks posting a 2.1 mark, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

ESPN powered its way to the top spot behind its Sept. 25 presentation of the National Football League contest between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, which generated an 11.8 rating, the second-highest in the medium's history behind a November 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement debate between then-Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot.

The Monday Night Football game, a 23-3 triumph for the Saints, marked the first time a pro football contest had been played in the Crescent City after Hurricane Katrina, and was preceded by concert performances by U2 and Green Day.

That NFL game wasn't ESPN's only gridiron success that week: the Sept. 28 college-football contest between Auburn and South Carolina was tied for sixth with a 3.4 household mark, while its Monday Night Countdown show on Sept. 25 earned a 3.3.

Disney had the week's second-ranked show, a 3.7 with the original movie Halloweentown on Oct. 1, while USA pinned a share of the third (with a 3.5) and sixth (3.4) positions with its WWE Monday Night Raw franchise on Sept. 25. A Sept. 30 installment of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and Bravo's Sept. 27 presentation of Project Runway also tallied 3.5 ratings.

TNT was fourth for the week with a 1.6 average, ahead of sister service Cartoon Network's 1.3.

Fox News Channel and Nick at Nite were tied for sixth with a 1.2, besting the 1.1 averages for Lifetime Television and FX. There was a three-way tie for the week's 10th spot: Hallmark Channel, Spike TV and TBS.

Gauged on a total-day basis, Nickelodeon was in its usual first-place perch with a 1.6. That compared with a 1.2 for second-place Disney. From there, TNT, Nick at Nite, ESPN and USA all shared the metric's bronze at a 1.1.

September